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Director: Ub Iwerks
Release Date: January 31, 1931
Stars: Flip the Frog
Flip replaces a horseshoe of a horse that belongs to a female cat character. This kitten looks exactly like Honey, who was Oswalds’s girlfriend in the 1927-1928 Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons, which Disney and Iwerks had made together. When the horse gets stung by a mosquito he runs off with “Honey” helpless in her carriage. Luckily, Flip saves the day, and wins “Honey”’s kiss.
‘The Village Smitty’ is much more interesting on paper than on the animated screen. Its even pace and its scarcity of gags makes the cartoon virtually endless.
Nevertheless, ‘The Village Smitty’ profits from Carl Stalling’s inspired music. Stalling had left Disney together with Iwerks, thinking that without Iwerks the Disney studio would have no future. After a while he joined Iwerks in his new studio. Stalling would stay with Iwerks until the studio collapsed in 1936. He then moved to Warner Bros., where he would become the most famous cartoon composer of all time.
Watch ‘The Village Smitty’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘The Village Smitty’ is available on the DVD ‘Cartoons That Time Forgot – The Ub Iwerks Collection Vol. 1’
Director: Raoul Servais
Release Date: 1973
The blacksmith has a love for horses, but unfortunately his surroundings are totally devoid of them. So he builds a horse head out of metal to worship. Unfortunately, the horse head appears to have an ability to grow and reproduce, surrounding his house like a forest.
‘Pegasus’ is a beautiful and surreal film. Unfortunately, it ends quite abruptly, leaving behind a sense that not everything has been said, yet.
Watch ‘Pegasus’ yourself and tell me what you think:
Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: January 16, 1942
Stars: Donald Duck
In ‘The Village Smithy’ Donald is a blacksmith who has to fix a large cartwheel and to shoe a stubborn female donkey. He succeeds in neither in this remarkably unfunny cartoon, which is one of the weakest within the whole Donald Duck series.
Long situation gags became a common feature of Disney shorts during the rise of the character comedy, in cartoons like ‘Mickey Plays Papa‘ (1934) and ‘Moving Day‘ (1936). Arguably, this time of comedy reaches its nadir in ‘The Village Smithy’. In it only two situations are milked to the length of the complete cartoon, with tiresome results. The wheel scene is the most interesting of the two, if still far from funny, and tributary to the spiral spring scene in ‘Clock Cleaners’ (1937).
The most interesting feature of this otherwise boring cartoon are its backgrounds, which belong to the first oil backgrounds in a Disney film, and which give the film a distinct, gloomy look. Donald, too, has a unique yellowish tan throughout this picture, setting the cartoon apart from all other Donald Duck shorts.
Watch ‘The Village Smithy’ yourself and tell me what you think:
This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 30
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Chef Donald
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Donald’s Snow Fight
Director: Vyacheslav Kotyonochkin
Release Date: 1967
Its chapters are all conceived in the same order: first we see animated capitalist predict something, then we see a giant Soviet blacksmith strike his mighty hammer and finally we see live action footage of the Soviet Union’s successes.
The separate chapters are the Soviet revolution, the civil war, the five year plans, the Second World War, the reconstruction after the war and the Soviet space program. The action is silent, and the imagery rather outdated (more like that of the 1920s than of the 1960s).
‘Prophets and Lessons’ is one of the most obviously propagandistic animation films ever made in the Soviet Union. Its overtly propagandistic message, its repetitive character, and its outdated symbolism make it rather tiresome to watch.
Surprisingly, two years later, the director of this humorless film, Vyacheslav Kotyonochkin, would launch a successful series of comic cartoons, called ‘Ну, Погоди!’ (‘Just Wait!’), featuring a very cartoony wolf.
Watch ‘Prophets and Lessons’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘Prophets and Lessons’ is available on the DVD box set ‘Animated Soviet Propaganda’